I was hoping, upon seeing Wikileaks: Secrets & Lies, that I’d have a better understanding of everything regarding Wikileaks, but I found that I am even more confused than ever. The sad situation at the heart of the film is that, at some point or another, everyone involved does something questionable, to the point where their opinions or recollections regarding anything else become suspect, especially when, by the end, everyone has seemingly turned on everyone else. It’s hard to dismiss Julian Assange’s criticisms of The New York Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel while it is equally challenging to ignore their commentary regarding Assange. It’s all so “he said, she said,” in a way.
Which means maybe I’m overcomplicating the entire film (which I have been known to do), and maybe we just need to look at the basics of the story. Did Wikileaks reveal information that had enormous journalistic importance? Yes. Did they properly protect those that could’ve been in danger, should that information been shared without being redacted in any way? No. Does the free sharing of all information at their disposal fall in line with their own philosophy? Yes. Does that make it right? Well, depends on who you are asking.
And that’s just some of the core bits; the film goes into far more details and it has the benefit of having footage of Julian Assange himself talking about the various scenarios surrounding the release of the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, and the diplomatic cables after. I also think it is fun to see how The New York Times discusses their partnership here in relation to how it plays out during the documentary about the paper, Page One.
Wikileaks: Secrets & Lies should be seen as a primer on all things Wikileaks and Julian Assange, but not necessarily the final, definitive document or statement. It raises far more questions than it answers, and the overall scenarios at play are far too complicated to be properly explained in under 90 minutes, though the film does as best as it can to do so objectively (insomuch as that is even possible). How you feel about Wikileaks and Assange may or may not change after watching this, but I do think it would be hard to get through it without eventually questioning everything and everyone on screen. Too many agendas to just take everyone at their word.